Rangineh Azimzadeh

Rangineh Azimzadeh (Democracy Workers Rights Center - DWRC): Rangineh graduated cum laude from Portland State University with an undergraduate degree in Communications Studies. She then went abroad to Nicosia, Cyprus where she studied International Mediation and Conflict Resolution. Rangineh also lived and studied abroad in Iran and Italy, and served as a fellow for the Institute for International Public Policy from 2003-2007. She undertook intensive Arab language training at Middlebury College before entering the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) as a graduate student. While at MIIS Rangineh participated in a 3-week intensive winter practicum in Cambodia on peace building in a post-conflict society. After her fellowship, Rangineh wrote: “The field experience helped to recommit me to working in the region and on this conflict specifically. It increased my global awareness immensely and provided a critical opportunity for introspection.”

The Hills of Southern Hebron

30 Jun

The village of Adierat is hidden within the desert hills of southern Hebron and if you blink too soon there is a distinct possibility you might just miss it. Our journey last week took us to three distinct villages in the south, but for the sake of time, I will focus here on the one that left the greatest impression.

When you first step foot in Adierat village it almost appears to be a ghost town, that is until people notice that two foreigners are moving about – and then the whole town seems to appear as if out of no where. Within seconds of walking no more than 10 feet, Willow and I were whisked inside of a tiny little room, promptly given 2 chairs in which to sit along with a cup of deliciously hot tea, and before we could say shukran, we were surrounded by nearly the entire village starring at us with a hungry curiosity. Everyone had come to see who these strange foreigners were and to quell their curiosity, we attempted conversation in our broken Arabic. Fortunate for us, we had some success. We managed to learn about some of the biggest challenges facing the people of this quiet, secluded village as well as some of the larger, underlying issues facing the surrounding communities. This blog is dedicated to their story.

As Willow and I sat grasping steaming hot shaee in our hands, we listened to each of the women explain how their village functions on a daily basis without running water or electricity. The main source of income for the village (which can be likened to a large, extended family) is provided by livestock. Livestock also happens to be the main source of livelihood for the surrounding farming communities. The communities might be able to have a shot at cultivating the land and use agriculture as an alternate (or perhaps additional) source of income, except then you run into one of the biggest challenges – water. As I mentioned, Adierat village functions without running water. They have a small well which a natural reservoir feeds into providing them with drinking water. The well alone, however, is not enough to sustain the village. Therefore, they are forced to purchase water for bathing and to hydrate their livestock.

With only one school in the village, education is one of the many things that falls to the wayside here. And without education, it is difficult to develop the skills necessary to stand up and fight for the essential right to satisfy basic human needs such as food, shelter and water. Part of the reason that water is in such short supply is because water is often redirected to nearby [illegal] Israeli settlements that make up a small percent of the local population, but consume a lions share of the water. These Israeli settlements are being systematically and strategically placed all over Palestinian land.

A basic theme in the field of conflict resolution is identifying the root causes of the problem in order to facilitate an effective solution. But what is one to do when the problem is inherently systemic? John Burton’s theory of structural violence argues that so long as “damaging deprivations,” which are avoidable, are caused by the “nature of social institutions and policies,” violence will prevail in a systematic way. In other words, violence becomes institutionalized and is inherently perpetuated by the very same system that identifies the oppression which results from this violence.

The Israeli settlements are avoidable, in fact, they are illegal. And as long as they continue to be built, they will continue to contribute to the structural violence that is being perpetuated on a daily basis against the Palestinian people. Water is only one of the many issues that the implementation of illegal settlements brings. This is not meant to divert the story toward one of blame, but rather to highlight the harsh facts that often make up reality here in the West Bank. I will never forget my experience with the people of Adierat village, and after reading this, hopefully you will not easily forget their story either.


One of the many villages we passed along the way in South Hebron

One of the many villages we passed along the way in South Hebron

Community members standing around the only well in the village

Community members standing around the only well in the village

Adierat Children

Adierat Children

Israeli settlement next to a Palestinian community

Red rooftops represent the Israeli settlement next to a Palestinian community

Posted By Rangineh Azimzadeh

Posted Jun 30th, 2009


  • Tiffany Ommundsen

    June 30, 2009


    Hi Rangineh! I love the way you describe things! I almost feel as if I am there myself! I think that you raise some very important issues in this blog. I would just like to add that the social impact of environmental issues, including the lack of access to water, constitute a major threat to peace and security. Lack of access to water can jumpstart a process of destabilization, whereby agricultural efforts fail, the economic situation deteriorates, the population becomes displaced and the institutions of society are left in disarray. It is a link that people oftentimes miss, but which you touched upon. Keep up the good work!


  • Catherine

    June 30, 2009


    Thank you for sharing that story. The last picture is the most powerful for me because of the difference in appearance. Those houses look like the houses we find here in upper middle-class neighborhoods, while the Palestinian villages look much less fortunate =(

  • Rachel

    July 1, 2009


    Great blog, Rangineh! I loved reading your details, and seeing through your eyes the effect of structural violence on these villages. I think one of the biggest things we need to work against vis-a-vis settlements and occupation is its normalization within mainstream Israeli media. There seem to be two channels of leftie thought in Israel: the current that wants life to be better for Palestinians under occupation (ie they have accepted the occupation as fact), and those that work to end the occupation altogether. It is working to make the ladder group seem more mainstream that keeps me hopeful. And It is stories like this one from Adierat that show people why this needs to happen.

    • Rangineh Azimzadeh

      July 1, 2009


      Rachel – thanks so much for providing feedback! Your input is certainly greatly valued here, especially given that you have unique insights from within Jerusalem. I agree that the ladder group does stand as a beacon of hope in the midst of what many feel is a hopeless conflict and hopefully this group will be able to mobilize into a movement where their voices can be better heard and change can begin to take place.

  • Devin

    July 1, 2009


    fantastic blog post Rangineh! Its really powerful to read about the people who face these challenges daily…. the water issue is so important! keep up the awesome blog!!


  • Mary Ellen Zonta

    July 1, 2009


    Dear Rangineh,

    I am so glad you are talking about water! It seems to me to be at the root of so many conflicts, but is not discussed very much. I look forward to hearing more about the issue from you.


    • Rangineh Azimzadeh

      July 1, 2009


      Thank you so much for your comment! Yes, the issue of water is absolutely huge, even here in Ramallah. I hope to be able to get some more info out about in future blogs!

  • Sami

    July 5, 2009


    Rangineh Joonam I’m going to comment again about your writing style! It is perfect the way you introduce the scene to us and go into to talking about the scarcity of water in that village. It is so sad that the only source of water that is provided to them is from a small well. What an amazing experience you had. Thank you for sharing it.

    Love you


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